TSA to consolidate, move headquarters

Transportation Security Administration employees will have a new commute starting in 2018.

TSA’s 3,400 employees will move into a new headquarters building in Alexandria, Virginia, under a lease agreement the General Services Administration signed recently and announced today.

GSA signed a 15-year lease for a 625,000 square foot building on Eisenhower Avenue in Alexandria.

GSA said TSA will remain at its current headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, while the new space is built out.

“The new lease agreement allows TSA to consolidate four locations into one at a rental rate and utilization rate that will ensure the agency is more efficient and effective in executing its mission,” said Darren Blue, GSA’s National Capital Region commissioner in the Public Buildings Service, in a statement.

GSA said the new headquarters will save the government $95 million over the term of the lease because of lower rent costs and energy efficiencies. “The new facility will offer more efficient use of space than TSA’s current locations and less energy and water usage than typical office buildings,” GSA said.

The government will pay $36 per square foot for rentable space, which GSA says is 25 percent below market rents. The landlord, Prudential-owned company, Eisenhower Real Estate Holdings, LLC, will give the government $50 million to pay for office space build out and other transition-related expenses.

The fact GSA signed a 15-year lease leaves one to wonder about the status of the Homeland Security Department’s headquarters consolidation project at the St. Elizabeths campus in Washington.

According to GSA’s 2015 prospectus, TSA was part of Phase 3 along with the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement directorates.

GSA estimated Phase 3 would cost $629 million and be completed by 2026, which is less than 15 years from now.

GSA and DHS kicked off Phase 2 of the program about a year ago with a $139 million contract award.

The St. Elizabeths program has been plagued by underfunding by Congress. The Government Accountability Office found in September that the funding gap between what was requested and what was received from 2009 through 2014 was more than $1.6 billion.

This funding gap ended up pushing the St. Elizabeths project 11 years behind schedule and increased the government’s cost by more than $1 billion more if St. Elizabeths is completed on its current schedule of 2026 at a cost of $4.5 billion.

In the fiscal 2016 House version of the DHS appropriations bill, lawmakers cut all funding for the St. Elizabeths project.

The Senate version of the DHS bill includes $212 million for the consolidation program.

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